The University of Iowa
ATV virtual reality

A new virtual reality simulator will help University of Iowa researchers study how and why people lose control while driving all-terrain vehicles.

In Iowa, more than 200 ATV-related crashes occur every year, sending patients to emergency departments across the state. And since January, there have been six known deaths of children in ATV-related incidents statewide, according to officials at UI Children’s Hospital.

Charles Jennissen, UI clinical professor of pediatrics and emergency medicine, says the university’s new ATV simulator will help researchers learn more about what causes ATV crashes and how they can be avoided.

“We’ve had a more basic ATV simulator, but this version is more sophisticated,” says Jennissen, a member of the UI Children’s Hospital ATV Safety Task Force. “Now we have virtual reality goggles, so the screen reflects the movements of the platform. As you turn the steering wheel, you also turn in the virtual reality environment, which makes the experience feel more realistic for research subjects.”

Developed in collaboration with researchers at the UI College of Engineering’s Center for Computer-Aided Design, the simulator features an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, a special suit with 17 motion sensors, and a motion platform to help simulate changes in terrain. UI students Jake Michael, of Hartland, Wisconsin, a graduate student in biomedical engineering, and Kyle Losik, of Naperville, Illinois, a senior mechanical engineering major, played a major role in building the simulator and designing the virtual reality environment, with leadership from engineering faculty member Salam Rahmatalla

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Publication Source: 
Iowa Now